Truth Matters, especially in a democracy

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PEG 12th Congressional District Newsletter 279

Protect Libraries from extremists

Americans have long sought to censor literature — “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” was an 1852 target for its anti-slavery message — and now debates over transgender rights and critical race theory have spawned aggressive grass-roots movements to control the worldviews shared with children.

The vitriol in Jamestown, a western Michigan farming town, spiked with the rise of groups campaigning across the United States to banish texts with LGBTQ characters, accusing authors, teachers and librarians of trying to brainwash the nation’s youth. The Patmos Library in Jamestown refused to remove an LGBTQ book and in August the town defunded the library. Several of its’ librarians have resigned due to the contentious environment and without the passing of this important millage, the library might have to shut its doors soon. This library, like so many others, offers a variety of activities that benefit most of the community. The August 18, 2022 PEG Newsletter featured a video on library extremists.

CONVERSATIONS, a talk show hosted by Chuck Newman and sponsored by the Ann Arbor Jewish Community Center, justfeatured a discussion Eli Neiburger, the new director of the Ann Arbor District Library. This exhilarating interview exposes the community to the multitude of services offered to the community.

The American Library Association said it counted an “unprecedented” number of book ban attempts in 2021, noting that most of the titles dealt with sexual orientation, gender identity or racism. 

Although the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Libraries do not seem to be in jeopardy, communities, in general, need to understand the importance of these institutions and be sensitive to threats. We need to vote so that libraries remain as learning institutions for all communities.

What is a Strawman argument?

Disinformation Week 2 of 5: Learn how to spot and counter manipulation.

The Strawman argument is used to attribute to your opponent something they haven’t argued, and then knock down the fake argument you just made up. – Washington Post

When someone makes a strong argument that’s hard to refute, simply pretend they made a different argument, that’s easier to knock down. Oversimplify what they said, misrepresent the point of their argument, or just put words in their mouth. Spot a ‘strawman’ being used when there is a mismatch between someone’s stance and the stance that their opponent is attacking. – Fallacious Trump

A more formal Strawman argument definition

Examples:

  • The Keep Families Together Act prohibit federal agents and officers from separating a child from a parent. Trump falsely claimed it was an ‘open borders bill’ – something he made up, and argued against it – PolitiFact
  • Lara Trump said on Fox that the searchers were “a bunch of people unannounced breaking into your home like this and taking whatever they want for themselves.” – CNN

Countering the Strawman argument

John Roberts, Fox News anchor and co-host of the afternoon show “America Reports,” admitted on air on Monday that his show was inaccurate when it claimed on Friday that President Joe Biden is trying to require Americans to sharply reduce their consumption of red meat. Roberts made the concession after CNN and other media outlets published fact check articles explaining that Biden does not have any plan to restrict red meat consumption. Roberts acknowledged that “a graphic and the script” from his Friday show “incorrectly implied” that a 2020 academic study about meat-eating and greenhouse gas emissions is “part of Biden’s plan for dealing with climate change. That is not the case.”

Roberts had falsely claimed on Friday that the study – which is not connected in any way to Biden’s actual policies – found that people need to “say goodbye to your burgers if you want to sign up to the Biden climate agenda.” As Roberts spoke on Friday, Fox aired a graphic that claimed “Biden’s climate requirements” are to “cut 90% of red meat from diet, max 4 lbs per year, one burger per month.” – CNN

Use clear and definitive language to counter strawman arguments. This makes it more difficult for your opponent to distort your stance, and makes it easier for you to correct them if they attempt to do so.

  • Point out the strawman. Call out your opponent on their use of the strawman, by explaining why their argument is fallacious, and how it distorts your original stance.
  • Ignore the strawman. You can choose to ignore the distorted version of your argument that your opponent presents (i.e. the strawman), and continue to advocate for your original position.
  • Focus on your audience rather than on persuading your opponent using strawman in a debate.

Thanks to DemCast USA. Adapted from their BULLSH!T METER Mar-a-Lago quiz HERE

Get Involved:

Events and Classifieds

Washtenaw Dems need our help!

With so much at stake—reproductive rights, voting rights, racial justice, fair economy, our environment, gun safety—there’s a lot work to do.  Democratic voting falls off for midterm elections, something we can’t allow to happen in this crucial one.  Here are the opportunities to get involved, from now to Election Day.

  • Encouraging our voters to get on the Permanent Absentee Voter (PAV) list, August 3–September 4:  We’ve prepared a hangtag to distribute to the doors of Democratic- and Democratic-leaning voters who are not on the PAV list encouraging them and providing instructions on how to sign up.  This will be a door-to-door no-knock activity:  just hang the literature and go on to the next door.
  • Voter Guide distribution, September 15–30:  This is the all-hands-on-deck effort.  We’ll be distributing 70,000 guides in two weeks.  The guides are important, because there will be many ways to vote our Democratic Party values apart from candidates with “Democratic” next to their names.  People welcome the guide, particularly in races where they might otherwise lack information. This is also a door-to-door no-knock activity.
  • Ballot chase/Get Out the Vote, September 30–November 8:  We’ll be using text, phone, and e-mail to encourage people who’ve received but not yet cast their ballots to vote.  We’ll also make sure that they get an electronic version of the voter guide.
  •  eVoter Guide, November 1–November 8:  We’ll use text, phone, and e-mail to make sure that our voters who are not on the PAV list have the Voter Guide soon before they head to the polls.
  • Distributing information at polls, November 8. 

Additional info is available on the WCDP website. Please indicate which volunteer opportunities you might be able to help out with by completing their Volunteer Interest Form. It’s not a binding commitment, but it would be great to know who is thinking about which activities. (And remember: Voter Guide distribution is an all-hands-on!)

Work with Voters Not Politicians (VNP) to Defeat the Election Deniers!

Voters Not Politicians (VNP), whose 2018 initiative successfully established the independent redistricting commission, has been a friend of Protector of Equality in Government since its inception. Scroll down to PEG’s videos of the week to find out how the Facebook Post from 27-year-old Katie Fahey began what is now known as Voters Not Politicians.

Now, VNP is focused on the issues related to the protection of voting rights as delineated in the Promote the Vote constitutional amendent ballot initiative. Passage of the proposal will codify numerous items, including: expanding and insuring the fundamental right to vote in safe, secure and fair elections, improved accessibility and convenience, nine days of early in-person voting, and the modernization of the administration of elections to ensure every vote counts.

VNP has formed a Super Pac to defeat “election deniers” in November. According to Bridge Magazine, the PAC aims to help elect “pro-voter” candidates who support election integrity and “the freedom to vote” in the state, the press release states. It is an independent group which is not allowed to communicate with or give money to a candidate. However, the Super PAC is permitted to endorse candidates. In that effort, the campaign has sent out questionnaires

to state legislative candidates, and Voters Not Politicians will endorse “pro-voter” candidates based on their answers, regardless of their party affiliations. 

VNP has further organized itself with several subgroups to tackle a variety of issues. They include:

  • The Nights and Weekends campaign is to increase access to voting, especially in areas of light turnout. They collaborate with local clerks and municipalities to increase the hours and locations voters can register to vote, obtain an absentee ballot, and vote. This is a municipality-by-municipality project that relies on hundreds of VNP volunteer teams to meet with and support their local clerk.
  •  Voter Outreach Project focuses heavily on high impact communities across southeast Michigan this year including Detroit, Pontiac Melvindale, Ecorse, River Rouge, Inkster and Flint. Their goal is to mobilize voters who voted in the 2020 election but do not have a voting history in midterm elections. Keep a lookout on “mobilize” on their events page.
  •  Dial for Democracy” – Volunteers receive exclusive alerts when it’s time to call lawmakers on legislation or decisions that impact Michigan’s democracy.
  • Bridge Magazine reports that VNP indicates it has 5,000 “organized, highly trained” volunteers to boost voter turnout with “canvassing, texting, phones and paid media.”They will focus on knocking 300,000 doors to engage voters and mail and digital ads are “on the table.”

More help is needed to defeat election deniers! To volunteer with VNP, go to VotersNotPoliticians.com to sign up.

Visit the PEG website for the full list and details of Upcoming Events

Things to read, watch, and listen to

DemCast, A Progressive Organization Vilified in the Right Wing Media

A non-profit, DemCast is dedicated to using social media, namely Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, to promote their progressive agenda. Their goal is to influence public opinion on topics as diverse as COVID, the Ukrainian war with Russia, the January 6 insurrection, and local elections throughout the United States. Since 2019, they’ve garnered over 50 billion impressions.

The  right wing media has accused DemCast of being a “Democratic bot-farm.” In truth, DemCast aspires to influence, maybe even initiate, the message, something the GOP has done with such success over the years.

Massive dark money windfall: New conservative group got $1.6 billion from single donor – Move over Robert Mercer, Charles Koch, and George Soros.

“A new group led by a prominent conservative lawyer has received $1.6 billion from one donor — the largest single contribution to a politically focused nonprofit that’s ever been made public, and a fortune that could be used to fuel right-wing interests.” Watch the video about Leonard Leo.

Leonard Leo is responsible for many dark money contributions where the donors are not disclosed. He is the conservative Federalist Society co-chairman and is referred to as “Trump’s Supreme Court whisper.” 

Leo’s nonprofit company, Marble Freedom Trust, received a 1.6 billion donation to further right-wing causes. “The gift of just over $1.6 billion came in the form of 100% of the stock of a privately held company, which Marble Freedom then sold to another company, according to the tax form. ”

While Leo claims he’s doing nothing different than other non-profits,  – “the Marble Freedom donation dramatically eclipses even the largest of the previously known groups.” Read more on taxes.

Trump Supporters and Election Deniers Gain Access to Confidential Voting Files

This week, the Washington Post reported that a Georgia computer forensic firm gained access to voting files deemed confidential. They were downloaded dozens of times, primarily by right wing conspiracy theorists and election deniers.

Attorneys for the GOP, namely Sydney Powell, hired Sullivan Strickler in late November 2020 to copy software and other data from county election systems. That effort accessed equipment in Georgia, Michigan and Nevada. Using a computer without permission with the intent of “deleting, altering or interfering with programs or data” is a felony under Georgia law.” Much of this effort was motivated by the need to prove the 2020 presidential election was stolen.

Others trying to infiltrate voting machines could use this ill-begotten data in the future. Said data security expert, Harri Hursti, the  release of such information “lowers the barrier to planning an attack against any election management system running this Dominion software.”

Election Season At a Glance: 

The Washtenaw County Clerk’s webpage enumerates in detail the elections, proposals and candidates to date. A few of the important remaining dates are listed below.

What are the remaining election dates in 2022?

To vote absentee, a request must be received no later than 5 pm the Friday before the election. The ballot must then be returned by 8 pm on Election Day.

  • November 8 – State General Election 

What are the voter registration deadlines?

Visit MichiganGov/Vote to register

  • October 24: Last day to register in any manner other than in-person with the local clerk for the November general election. (168.497)
  • October 25 through 8 pm on November 8: In-person registration with local clerk with proof of residency. (168.497)

DemCast is an advocacy-based 501(c)4 nonprofit. We have made the decision to build a media site free of outside influence. There are no ads. We do not get paid for clicks. If you appreciate our content, please consider a small monthly donation.


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